Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pot Meet Kettle: Lululemon Aggressively Pursues Patents and Borrows Designs

Earlier, I wrote a post about how Lululmon's latest upload of mesh lab designs are almost identical replicas to another brand called Nesh NYC which already had their versions online before Lululemon uploaded them. A reader just sent me this article, Lululemon Patent Troll discussing Lululemon's aggressive pursuits for patents on some of their designs Lululemon Patents, and litigation against brands with similar designs. As an avid customer of Lululemon, I am glad they are filing patents on their designs and IP partnerships on some of their more interesting materials (read this article here about a recent Kick Starter campaign using Lululemon's Silverscent). It means I wont see a cheaper version of the item I have just purchased and it also means my items will sell well when I decide I want to upcycle them on ebay. It is unlikely that Lululemon will patent luon as a material as it is more commonly known and used as 'supplex'. For real, that is all it is.  With patents and IP's my investment as a consumer is protected, and it pushes other brands as well as Lululemon to innovate rather than copy. I am rather annoyed to see some of the items Lululemon is putting out, for example the Nesh NYC inspired designs uploaded tonight, and Michi inspired from several weeks ago (tech mesh tights), are almost exact replicas. Nesh NYC is a much smaller and new start up company. Does this mean that because Nesh has not filed a patent that Lululemon now will? Why not just hire those talented designers? Perhaps Hanesbrands who is pushing back on Lululemon's cease and desist letter by arguing that the No Limit Tank should never have been awarded patent will help fund some of these smaller brands in their litigation. All of this is quite unprecedented in the fashion industry and so I am very interested to see how this goes. As stated, on one hand I am pleased to see lululemon is fiercely protecting their designs and innovation, on the other, competition is the greatest motivator (or regulator). 

Some items that Lululemon has a patent on are:
Speed Shorts, sleeve cuffs/thumbholes, hoods with poney tail holes, their new towel mat, Keep on Running Duffel, Run: Inspire Jacket (do they intend to bring this one back??) 

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